Giving a bearded dragon a bath can be an intimidating process. Use this guide to make it a success.
- Step-by-step process
- How often should you bathe your Bearded Dragon?
- How long can you bathe them?
- Is soap safe?
- Is bathing safe if they’re shedding?
📷 by Reddit user PlayfulMink
Bathing keeps your bearded dragon clean and free from any bacteria, parasites, or fungus. Though it can be a point of disagreement between reptile owners, as some don’t bathe their reptiles at all, the health benefits it can give your beardie should be enough to convince you to try giving it a bath even just once a week. It’s also a good way to relax bearded dragons and is a good time to bond with them and help them get used to being handled.
What's In This Guide?
Overview From Start To Finish
Bathing a bearded dragon is quite easy. It’s really just a quick soak and then a rinse. A good, gentle, brushing can also be done to make sure it’s clean. All you really need is a tub or a basin with lukewarm water and some towels and you’re set. From filling the tub with water, letting your dragon soak or splash around, optional brushing, and drying off shouldn’t take you more than 30-45 minutes including clean up. Doing this even just once a week ensures all the different health benefits for your beardie are maximized.
The best health benefit your beardie will get from bathing is hydration which helps in shedding, digestion, and overall good health. Good hydration helps keep serious issues such as impaction and tail rot at bay by helping with good digestion and proper shedding.
Since these reptiles love to bask and prefer a low humidity, their skin tends to dry up so regular bathing can help keep it moist and supple which will aid them during shedding. Bearded dragons aren’t too fond of drinking from their water dish so a bath will ensure that they drink (they cannot resist taking a sip while soaking in their bath). Bearded dragons with digestion issues will also benefit as the warm water soak will nudge their bowels to move.
Since bearded dragons are in enclosures, there are times that they end up crawling on their own waste. And of course, bathing will lead to good hygiene which will keep bacteria, parasites, and fungi at bay, giving your beardie a strong immune system and good health in the long run. Bathing benefits reptile owners as well since you can get infected from some bacteria that grows on a reptile’s skin (e.g. salmonella).
For your dragon to have a good bathing experience, get them used to being handled and taking a bath at a young age – they will surely benefit from this practice. It will also be a lot of fun for you and your beardie.
How To Bathe A Bearded Dragon
Step 1: Fill A Tub Or Large Container With Warm Water
The first step is to get your bathing area and materials ready before you take your bearded dragon out of its enclosure. Start with a tub or a small basin. Most bathtubs or a bathroom sink will work great for this purpose or a plastic box. The advantage of a plastic box or small basin is that you can easily clean and disinfect it after every bath. Deeper basins will help with a skittish beardie so you can prevent it from escaping.
Fill your bathtub or basin with lukewarm water up to the level of your bearded dragon’s hind knees or armpits which is about 0.5 – 1 inch for small dragons and babies and 2-3 inches for larger ones. Your bearded dragon should be able to keep its head above the water level to keep water away from its lungs. Take note that beardies can easily get water into their lungs so keep the water level low. Even if the water level is low, always keep an eye on your bearded dragon during their bath for safety.
Step 2: Make Sure The Water Temperature Is Correct
The water for the bath should be between 85-95°F which is about the same temperature as their basking spot. It should never go above 100°F and make sure that you measure it with an accurate thermometer since what feels lukewarm to human hands may be scalding to a beardie. If the temp is too high, it can surprise your lizard and stress it out.
Step 3: Place Them In The Water And Let Them Get Comfortable
Once the bath is ready, gently and slowly set your beardie down in the tub or basin. If this is your beardie’s first time to take a bath, go at your dragon’s pace, letting it be comfortable in your hand first before putting it in the water. Slowly put your hand down in the water or swirl the water a bit with your other hand so your dragon becomes aware that it’s there. Let them investigate and get comfortable on their own.
Once your bearded dragon is happy in the water, let them soak or splash around. Some beardies will take a drink or even defecate at this time. The warm water helps with their bowel movement so make sure you take out the waste immediately if this happens.
A good 20-minute soak will do wonders for your bearded dragon’s hydration and skin. Remember to be patient during bath time especially if your beardie is just getting used to being handled. Let them get used to it at their own pace and you’ll be surprised that they will eventually even enjoy their baths.
Step 4: Gently brush and Rinse Them Off/Clean Them
This step can either come before the soaking time or after depending on how your bearded dragon likes its bath. If you’re bathing it for the first time or depending on your beardie’s level of comfort during handling, you may want to skip brushing so as not to stress them out too much until they are fully comfortable with bath time.
Never use soap during your dragon’s bath since they will most probably drink during this time. To clean them more thoroughly, use a very soft toothbrush to gently stroke in the direction of their scales. It’s not so much as brushing but a gentle massage, really. If you can’t find a soft toothbrush then a make-up brush will do the trick. During brushing/massaging, always avoid and be careful around the eyes and cloaca (urinary and fecal orifice); in fact, it’s best not to touch these areas at all. You can go ahead and gently brush its head, cheeks, and under the chin.
If you see any loose skin during shedding, do not force it out. The soaking time alone should help loosen it up. You can just brush over it a bit. The skin should come off naturally. If it doesn’t then the new skin underneath may not be ready yet. Regular baths and proper hydration will make shedding easier.
To rinse them, gently pour water over your bearded dragon’s body. On the head, a few drops of water will do or just avoid the head altogether to be safe. If you opt not to use a brush on your beardie then gently pouring water on their body and letting them soak and swim around should be enough for their bath.
Step 5: Dry Them Off
After rinsing and soaking for at most 30 minutes, dry your dragon off immediately and completely with a soft towel or a paper towel. Some owners prefer using a paper towel so they can throw it out after and not risk any bacterial growth on a towel. Dry them well before putting them back in the tank because the substrate may stick to their wet skin.
Remember to dry them off immediately after taking them out of the water. Do not air dry! The change in temperature from being in the water to the air may be too cold for ectothermic creatures. If the temperature in your house is on the low side or if it’s winter in your area then you may want to dry them near a heat lamp so you can keep them warm.
Place them directly under the basking spot when you return them to their enclosure so any excess moisture can evaporate.
After your bearded dragon’s bath time, make sure you clean up after yourself at once. Do not let the bath water sit there too long before throwing or letting it drain out. You may opt to disinfect your tub or basin with a vinegar or lemon mixture from time to time as well.
How Often Should I Bathe My Bearded Dragon?
A bath 1-2 times a week is best for your bearded dragon. Doing this regularly also allows for good bonding time between you and your dragon and will help it take full advantage of the benefits. During shedding, you may want to increase the frequency to 3-4 times a week to help ease the old skin off. A warm bath will also be good any time you feel like your dragon has digestion problems (impaction or constipation) or when it feels a bit stressed.
How Long Can I Give My Bearded Dragon A Bath?
The bath should last no more than 30 minutes but if your dragon wants out, do not force it. Remember, you want your dragon to associate bath time with relaxation and not stress. Even if your dragon stays in the bath only to drink or defecate and then leave, that’s fine. It will eventually get used to longer baths especially if you stick to a regular bathing schedule.
Bearded Dragon Bath Soap… Safe Or Not Safe?
Using any form of soap or detergent during your bearded dragon’s bath is definitely not safe! All you really need is clean water and a soft brush. Beardies will most probably take a drink from their bathwater so keeping it clean and chemical-free is your top priority especially since they can also absorb chemicals through their skin. Even products marketed as “organic” or pet safe should be avoided.
This is also why it’s important to take out any feces immediately or change the water if your bearded dragon decides to defecate. As you discover your beardie’s bathing behavior along the way, a nice technique may be to keep two basins, so you can transfer it to the other one if your dragon likes pooping during bath time.
Should You Bathe Your Bearded Dragon While Shedding?
Yes! Increasing the frequency of baths during shedding season (3-4x a week) will really help aid in loosening your dragon’s skin as it gets extra hydration from baths and make their skin easier to shed. Some owners even provide daily baths for shedding beardies. This will help get rid of stubborn dead skin that can build up on its toes, joints, and at the tip of their tails which can lead to tail rot. A good soak will ensure that the skin loosens up and comes off naturally. Again, never force any loose or dry skin off your beardie during shedding. The skin underneath has to be ready before the old skin comes off. Brushing gently in the direction of the scales will also help but do so cautiously so as not to harm the new skin underneath which may still be raw.
Bathing a beardie is easy and can be a great time to bond with it that benefits both you and your pet. It helps them stay hydrated which keeps them healthy and eases the process of shedding. It keeps them clean which protects them from illnesses and helps avoid any bacterial infections such as salmonella that can affect humans. Just remember to avoid soap and to go slow with your bearded dragon during bath time.
Explaining common myths and facts about bearded dragon care:
Myths and Facts about Bearded Dragon Care
A great step-by-step bathing guide by WikiHow:
How to Give a Bearded Dragon a Bath: 11 Steps (with Pictures)
Quick care sheet for a bearded dragon (PDF):
Bearded dragon husbandry